School has been back in session for a few weeks. By now, the start of your child’s academic year is either progressing extremely well with no issues; it has been a rough start or a mixture and blend of all experiences (perceived as positive or negative). Whether the start of the school year is going as you expected or not, there is an opportunity to evaluate the academic strengths and areas of growth. As parents we can help our child(ren) be engaged, equipped and empowered to achieve their own unique level of academic success.
A Need to Nurture, not Negate
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 Amplified).
This verse exhorts us as parents to engage, equip and empower our children for a far greater mission and impact on a child’s grades, academic achievement or status in our parental groups. Students at Trinity International University (TIU) discuss in class the environment and climate that can either be constructive and healthy for a student’s development or the detrimental parental conduct that prevents growth and maturity. This verse addresses the method of disciplining and providing instruction in the Lord to be done without provoking wrath. There may be a time that our child will underperform academically or behaviorally. Those episodes of life may provide a cause, condition and a concern that requires correction (discipline) be managed with tenderness and tact.
As parents, we desire our children to do their very best and perform with excellence. The challenge for us is to determine the method and mode we utilize during the journey with our children. We have the option and opportunity to nurture their growth and development or negate opportunities to teach our children to be engaged in the learning process (what did I learn from this situation), equipped with tools and techniques to find success (learn life skills) and empowered (develop resilience and grit).
Engage, Equip and Empower
In the TIU Child and Counseling class as the professor, a supplemental book used is The Scaffold Effect by Dr. Koplewicz, (President of Child Mind Institute). This text provided a framework to facilitate faith-based learning – how can we help children be stable and sturdy in our current culture.
Parents can engage, equip, and empower students by providing:
- Structure – Establishing routines, practicing constructive communication, modeling coping skills, establishing house rules).
- Support – Executing empathy and affirmation of thoughts and emotions. Be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19).
- Encouragement – Exhorting our children to engage in trying new things, taking calculated risks and not fearing failure – but learning from it.
Having a philosophy and practice to provide structure, support and encouragement that is unique to each child will help our children be engaged and learning from what is happening with their lives, feel supported by parents and encouraged to critically think and challenge themselves to take steps of faith and avoid walking in fear.
Have an Ephesians 6:4 Mindset and Mission
Be tender and tactful with tense moments and conversations with your child. May the mission of the conversation focus on instructing them in the Lord.
Be present and in the moment with your child. Engage in active listening with your child, listen to their stories and narratives that they provide about their day and experiences at school. May the focus be on what they are learning and experiencing. When they achieve success, take the time to highlight the journey to their success rather than the result.
Be intentional to co-labor with your child’s teachers and school administration. Have dialog about what they see in your child; discuss the areas of strengths and areas that can be improved and developed.
Be in community with other parents. Seek wisdom in the multitude of counsel.
Be constructive and find opportunities for your child to develop skills based on their age and appropriate development. Avoid the desire to do all the work for your child. Seek and take advantage of opportunities for children to learn to advocate for themselves, learn new skills and abilities that will scaffold them to be engaged, equipped, and empowered to be stable and sturdy in our culture and society.
Clifford Mack, PhD is an Adjunct Professor at Trinity international University – Florida.
For articles by TIU Florida’s dean, visit https://www.goodnewsfl.org/author/gene-l-greene/